Choosing the right partners to sit on your cap table is one of the hardest decisions that a founder has to make. The wrong choice is difficult to undo. It can be difficult to get reliable information on which firms to choose, especially if you’re newer to the industry.
We hope that by collecting and processing founder rankings of investors, we can democratize access to this information, allowing founders to easily find the investors who are right for them. We verify that only founders who have been backed by an investor can rank them. If you are a founder who’s raised money, we would love for you to rate your investors! If not, we hope our rankings can be helpful to you.
We use an Elo-based algorithm (a pairwise comparison), which asks founders to choose their preferences among the VCs they’ve worked with. The advantage of this system is that it only accepts ratings from founders who have actually worked with these VCs, and it preserves anonymity of the founders while avoiding the vitriol on other review sites.
Any founder who has been backed by a VC, as shown on Crunchbase, can submit rankings.
Although we authenticate all founders through their LinkedIn profiles, we only store that data temporarily for authentication purposes. As soon as founders start submitting comparisons, we hash your identity, and unlink your hashed identity from the ratings you’ve made, so no one can ever connect your ratings to you. To be as secure as possible, we’re also open sourcing our code so that you can see how we handle the data.
We use a combination of Linkedin and Crunchbase to verify the identity of a founder and check which investors have backed their company. We also invite founders to correct our data.
These rankings measure founders’ preferences among the VCs who have backed them. So if one firm is ranked higher than another, it means that founders who have had both VCs invest in them generally prefer the higher-ranked firm. We ask founders to make pairwise comparisons of all of the firms that have invested in them. Specifically, we prompt them with the question “Which (firm) would you rather have as an investor?”
We are only ranking VC firms and accelerators in order to gather enough data to present meaningful rankings. While angel investors and specific partners play a key role in fundraising, they are not ranked in Founder’s Choice.
Like a chess player who has only played a few tournaments, VCs will need to co-invest with some of the best VCs so that founders can meaningfully compare them. That said, there’s no reward for having invested in more companies, or writing bigger checks (unless the founders value a VC more because they wrote a bigger check). This ranking is entirely about who founders see as most valuable.
Our second release uses data from 1077 venture-backed founders. We only rank VC firms on whom we believe we have statistically significant data. Specifically we’ve chosen to include VC firms with more than 100 comparisons from founders.
As a note, for our second release, we changed the comparison cutoff from 25 comparisons to 100. We did this because, for us, the biggest priority is to choose a comparison cutoff where we feel the elo of each firm on the list is statistically significant. We originally chose 25 last time because that was the expected number of games where an elo rating stabilizes in chess. As we’ve gotten more data, we've realized that that number is closer to 100. Moving forward, with each release, we'll keep doing our best to ensure that our list builds on top of statistically significant data.
We're planning on updating the rankings roughly every 6 months! Check out our latest release here.
Check out this article by Roy Bahat at Bloomberg Beta, who’s helped to support this project.
At the moment, our focus is just to produce a general ranking – an alternative to the Midas List, which measures VCs in terms of their investment returns – based on whether those VCs were helpful to founders. We might consider ways to make our rankings more useful in the future, and we’re open to your suggestions.
We are Jerry Ye and Daniel Tao, two former student engineers from UPenn.
Although we have venture capital firms as sponsors for this project, they do not have access to any of the data nor are they able to contribute to any of the rankings.
If you'd like to support us as a sponsor, please reach out to us at email@example.com!